EXCLUSIVE: Interview with OL Coach Joe Wickline

Gator Country had the opportunity to sit down with the University of Florida's offensive line coach, Joe Wickline and ask a variety of questions about the line and other issues. Part one of two.

Sitting down with Coach Wickline is quite an experience because he's always been very candid in his replies along with a great sense of humor. I personally enjoyed the interview and as you'll find out soon enough, he isn't afraid to lay it out there.

What kind of things do you feel the Gators did well on the offensive line last year?

"The biggest thing we did last year for the first time since we've been here, we began to gel with chemistry. We began to understand what is expected both from a scheme standpoint, an effort standpoint, and an attitude standpoint with each other. We had a couple of good seniors that are no longer with us that certainly helped us with all of that. The second thing was we got better as the year went on. That's an indication of a solid group. A questionable group does not progress and to me they got better. I really thought that was a good sign."

What did they not do well and you may change as an offense?

"Obviously we still have the same issues with short yardage situations and that can be attributed to the type of system we run sometimes. We became a finesse group and we have to bear down and learn how to get it done. I think it's an overall attitude -- it's just an approach, but I think that is something that we didn't do well. I think we need to sustain for drives and not settle for field goals. This has to be a situation where we dominate that area a lot better."

Coach Wickline demonstrating a blocking technique to Jonathon Colon

Where did the offensive line improve the most in the spring?

"I think we got more physical -- no question we are more physical than we have been since I have been here. I think the fact that we were able to rotate players but keep them at the same position and not have to flip guys around helped with the continuity. Knowing how and what to do was good. Again, I think their attitude and chemistry got better."

Any major changes that you made during the spring?

"Nothing major; we discussed Steve Rissler is a guy that can play center as a second teamer in case Mike goes out. Ron Dowdy moving over from defense really came along, he is still not quite big enough, but we think he is going to really help us and even compete for a starting job. In reality, I thought Anthony Guererro got better and when he got here he basically was just kind of status quo. Carlton Medder and Jonathan Colon got a lot better."

Coach Wickline coaching up Jon Colon

On the short yardage problems from last year, are there any changes in store for this upcoming season?

"We will always tweak what we do, but it doesn't matter what we do, it's a matter of attitude. It is more a matter of mindset and approach than what you do."

Some publications have Mike Degory as first time All-SEC, some as All-American. What do you think of him?

"To this date I haven't seen a center better than Degory. Of the teams I have seen on film I haven't seen a better one. I have had some really good centers under my watch and as far as the center position, he is the total package. He could play guard center or tackle."

Since your arrival in 2002, who is the most improved offensive lineman you have?

"Lance Butler. On a scale from where he started to now is definitely the most improved. There is no question he has improved in his overall football skills. He has always had the potential. He is now applying it to the field."

Stay tuned for part two tomorrow evening.

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